Thursday, June 1, 2017

Emergency Rations Test #3: Datrex Bars

Datrex Bars have been around for years; the company was founded in 1970. I recall seeing them advertised decades ago and had fairly high expectations for this brand. Generally, a product doesn't stay on the market this long unless it is suitable for the intended purpose.

I tested these the same way I am testing all of the various emergency rations, by using them to replace a meal or two during my spring hectic period at work. I'm out in a field or driving a truck for 12-14 hours a day (when it's not raining) and have to pack a lunch anyway, so this is an easy test for me.

  • Datrex sells their rations in two packages, white and blue.
  • Each blue pack contains 18 small bars that are individually shrink-wrapped inside a foil and plastic bag. The white packs contain 12 bars, wrapped the same way. The bars are each about the size of a hotel bar of soap, or two Zippo lighters side by side.
  • I bought a two-pack (blue) of Datrex bars from Amazon for $22.51. That breaks down to $11.26 per pack, and since each pack is intended to last three days, that's $3.75 per day or $1.25 per meal. You can get them cheaper directly from the manufacturer if you buy them by the case.
  • Each bar provides 200 Calories. The instructions are to eat six of them a day, for a total of 1200 Calories per day.
  • Ingredients are simple: flour, palm oil, sugar, water, coconut, salt.
  • US Coast Guard approved, so they are safe to store in extreme temperatures and have a five-year shelf-life.

  • The outer packaging on both of the packs that I received had lost their vacuum seal, rendering them useless.
  • The inner wrapper on each bar is a tight shrink-wrap. While this is a good way to keep them separated, it is not air-tight.
  • The inner wrapping is a pain to get off of the bars without destroying the bar. Due to the loss of vacuum seal, I'm not sure if the bars I received were normal or not. They were very dry and crumbly, falling apart as I tried to unwrap them.
  • The texture of the bars is coarse and hard, coarse enough that you can feel lumps through the outer packaging. This may be part of the reason they lost their vacuum seal - the coarse texture creates wear points.
  • The taste was awful - think burnt, dry oatmeal, thirst-provoking and hard to choke down. These are going into the bird feeder. 
  • I want to believe that the breached packaging caused them to go stale, but would have to buy a sealed pack to see if it is any better and I'm not sure I want to take the chance of getting more useless rations. If I can buy some at a store where I can be assured that the vacuum seal is intact, perhaps I will update this test.

  • Poor packaging means that this is a poor choice for emergency rations. I looked through other reviews on Amazon and a few other places, and found that it is common to receive them with breached vacuum seals.
  • Given the negative reviews I've found online as well as my own experience, the outer packaging needs to be rethought or their quality control needs to be slapped with a clue-by-four. 
  • Amazon may be convenient for purchasing things like this, but the importance of having an intact vacuum seal means that they are best bought from a source where you can inspect them before purchase. Always check the packaging before accepting anything that is supposed to be vacuum sealed and when you do your periodic check of your supplies! Amazon doesn't like to handle returns on food items, so I have some expensive bird feed now.
  • I like the simple ingredients and the individual inner wrapping. Once the package is opened, the individual bars are easy to dole out and carry in a pocket or pouch.
  • However, the taste is terrible.
  • I cannot recommend this brand. 

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